Homeward Bound, Part Eight.
That question they have in Panel One is pretty central to the story here, True Believers. Why hadn’t my father been on this medication, which is highly successful for patients with his specific type of lung cancer, before my sister and I showed up to get to the bottom of things? That question needed some exploration, and we were pretty set on finding out why.
The key thing here is that the drug (crizotinib) was offered about two and a half months back, in December. That was one of our key “take aways” from the meeting with the oncologist, and something that we were having real trouble mentally digesting. We had asked a great number of questions, while my dad sat quietly, not really participating. Obviously, on some level he hadn’t been all that big a participant in the decisions about the treatment.
We established that the “mutation panel” test had needed to be done during the summer. It’s pretty important to understand what that is here. It is NOT a biopsy, where you look at the cells and say, “Yep, that’s cancer.” It is NOT a series of chemical stains, which in turn yield positive or negative results based on specific reactions. Instead, they take the tumorous material and sequence its entire DNA molecule, to determine the exact mutation that the cells carry. What is sequencing literally millions of lines of DNA code, and then processing them against know profiles.
Even with modern computing, it takes weeks.
So…in the summer, when the panel was done, there was no way to wait for the results. He had just had a stage 3B mass taken from one lung, and the remaining smaller masses (too small to even operate via DaVinci robot) needed to be dealt with immediately to keep him from needing another surgical intervention, and soon. As a result, Chemotherapy and Radiation were green lit, and those proved pretty effective. They basically dealt with much of the problem, and bought a “breather” of sorts. The underlying problem still needed to be dealt with…but by the end of the chemotherapy round, the mutation panel had come back.
At that point, the ALK mutation of the cancerous cells had been determined, and this very aggressive, targeted treatment was on the table. My parents had pretty much failed to ask enough questions…things like, “are there side effects, and if so, are they like the chemotherapy.” As it turns out, the side effects are negligible…completely so. Assuming that the side effects were identical to chemo, they elected to not take this “more aggressive” therapy, on the theory that it would have harsher side effects.
So in other words, they put his treatment on hold for over two months, because they didn’t have the science vocabulary to understand what was being said, or ask decent questions. Instead, they proceeded with assumptions based on an imperfect understanding of things they have heard from other people and media.
Thankfully, that all got sorted. However…my sister still wanted to get to the bottom of why it had happened, which then engaged my mother in conversation. That then, became massively challenging. My mother is both highly uninterested in the science at all (in fact, she’s actively bored by it) and additionally only too willing to blame everyone else for everything that happens. Anywhere. Ever.
She actually returned to conversation on this subject three times, with me…which became very, very frustrating. She seemed to get that there was a disconnect in the dates, but steadfastly refused to believe that there was any way that THEY could have made the mistake…it HAD to be the oncologist, or the lab, or the surgeon. Whenever the timeline was explained, it involved science, so listening stopped. It was…not okay.
You’ll note that her art design is still Inhuman American, but heavily influenced by the Evil Queen. That’s on purpose. As Homeward Bound continues, that will become more obvious.
As it stood, everyone else had the problem here…she couldn’t see it at all.
Artistically, I’m still being very influenced by the Indie Minimalism of “Persepolis.” We are finishing up the book in class tomorrow, and I am actually home in Los Angeles…so we will see how much longer Ms. Satrapi’s artistic style continues to govern the execution of Adequacy. I rather like the more Silver Age, polished style that I had settled into.